Motor vehicle accident reports will be able to be filed online

Staff Writer

JACKSON — The process of reporting a motor vehicle accident to the police is expected to enter the digital age next month. A one-year contract for an online reporting service was recently authorized by the Jackson Township Council.

Referred to on the Jackson Police Department’s Internet website as the Citizen Self-Reporting Form, individuals will be able to use the service to file a motor vehicle accident report at any time.

While current plans only allow for motor vehicle accident reports to be filed online, individuals may eventually be able to report lost, stolen or damaged property by using the online service, according to municipal officials.

“This is really more of a convenience thing for residents,” Jackson police Sgt. John Convery said.

According to Convery, any reports that are filed on the Jackson website will first go through the police department before making their way to Police Reports U.S., a service provided by New York-based Empire Software Solutions.

“Whatever comes out of our building, we are responsible for it,” the sergeant said. “Certain information will be redacted [blacked out] before it goes out.”

Police Reports U.S. reportedly uses a 128-bit encryption for any uploads to its servers, as well as a staff of security personnel to monitor server activity on its end 24 hours a day.

“They basically assured us that the data is very secure and that they have never had a data security breach,” Convery said.

As things currently stand, photo uploads for the motor vehicle accident reports will not be possible.

The reported information will be available to insurance company representatives and to the individuals who were involved in the accident within five working days.

The online reporting system comes at an important time, according to Convery, who said recent cutbacks in staffing have forced police department administrators to look at other methods of filing reports.

“Our clerical staff has been cut almost by half, so they have been scrambling to catch up to the daily workload,” he said. “This could potentially help alleviate some of the workload.”

Police administrators and municipal officials touted the fact that the contract with Police Reports U.S. will not cost Jackson taxpayers anything, since individuals who use the service will pay a fee.

The township will receive $1 per page when a request is fulfilled. Although officials believe most of the requests will be filed by insurance companies, residents could still reap the benefits.

“I think the greatest benefit will be to the people who need the report. They can go online, 24/7, from the comfort of their own home,” Convery said. “We are just trying to make it convenient for the public, and we hope this will make things better all around.”